School in the indoor pool: so that the children do not get lost

Swimming pools have been closed for a long time during the Corona pandemic. Bertha von Suttner Comprehensive School attends extraordinary swimming lessons.

It’s a bit like arm wrestling: Samit and Fabian both have two-sided grips on pasta with outstretched arms as they swim toward each other. Fifth graders from Bertha-von-Suttner-Gesamtschule practice kicking their legs together. It is one of the five stops where the two 11-year-olds will work this morning during the Easter holidays in the indoor pool in Weidenau. Swimming instructors Britta Hansen and Ina Seifert monitor the students and give them tips on how to do each task correctly.

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In the first week of the Easter holiday, the eight students participate in one of two four-day swimming courses run by their school, Bertha von Suttner Comprehensive School, at the indoor pool in Wiednau. “The good thing is that we have more time here,” says swimming teacher Britta Hansen, who teaches physical education and social studies in elementary school. Unlike in school, she says, kids can constantly develop a swimming style here. Britta Hansen stresses that it’s also positive that she and co-worker Ina Seifert can work extensively with everyone when there are eight children.

Swimming lessons in schools have been cancelled

Britta Hansen’s judgment on the kids’ progress on day three of the swim session: “They all have fun, and they do everything really well.” He is on vacation. “This way, the 11-year-old continues, fully focused on practicing arm pulls and leg kicks.

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Swimming courses are organized by Bertha von Suttner Comprehensive School in cooperation with the University of Siegen. It is conducted as part of the “Extra Time to Learn” project, funded by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The idea for the learning opportunity came from swimming teachers Britta Hansen and Ina Seifert. I have noticed that during the pandemic, the number of children who cannot swim has increased. “Our students were not taking swimming lessons in elementary school,” stresses Anja Siebert, educational director at Bertha von Suttner Comprehensive School. Those who have left elementary school in the past two years have not taken swimming lessons, even though the curriculum requires them to be third graders.

Work to bridge the learning deficit of students with a support program

Not only when it comes to swimming, students have a learning deficit that Bertha wants to work on now. Last year, Anja Siebert explains, additional courses were offered to students during the summer and fall holidays. Children in the key subjects of German, English and Mathematics were able to take advantage of the extra learning opportunity to make up for the learning material they missed.

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In addition, the focus is also on the motor and social skills of children, who have also struggled during the years of the Corona pandemic: in one of the projects, students made a film about the renovation work in their school. In another, they practiced theatrical plays. In the upcoming school year, Bertha von Suttner Comprehensive School would like to organize extracurricular learning opportunities in order to continue to fill in the learning gaps that have arisen, says Anja Siebert. For swim course students, says Britta Hansen, a walk in the deep pool is imminent. There they will be able to demonstrate what they have learned over the past few days.

Indoor and outdoor swimming pools in Siegerland

It’s not just the pandemic that is causing a dip in efforts to get swimming lessons:

The city of Siegen is expanding the indoor pool in Weiden. After that, the Löhrtor indoor pool will be abandoned. In general, this reduces the available water surface. Above all, foreign clubs and schools fear that they will not be able to maintain swimming times in Siegen.

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In Netphen, long waiting lists for swimming courses have been discussed extensively in recent months. Freizeitpark Obernautal GmbH (FON) indicates limited capacities that can only be expanded at the expense of public bathing time. Politicians are waiting for a concept that will enable every child in Netphen’s elementary school to learn to swim. The pool is currently closed until mid-May due to renovations.

The city of Freudenberg has abandoned its indoor pool in the Büchergrund school complex. The former swimming pool is now the elementary school canteen. A new building with an educational pool will be built on the grounds of the outdoor pool – but when that is not clear. In 2020 it was decided to start planning.

Swimming is available year-round in Siegerland currently only in Siegen (three indoor pools), Netphen, Neunkirchen and Hilchenbach. Kreuztal, Freudenberg and Burbach have only outdoor pools, and the Wilnsdorf community has no pool at all.

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